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Championing 2004 Red Sox’ claim as favorites

Parents are not allowed to designate a favorite child. You can think about it, but you can't talk about it.

So how does it work with World Series championships? Are we allowed to say that one is more special than another?

I will. I am here to tell you to stop the madness. What happened last month at Fenway was great. We are still basking in the afterglow of the Brotherhood of the Beard. Who ever thought the 2013 Red Sox would win the World Series?

But 2004 is still the biggest thing that ever happened to our local baseball team.


Let's establish that preference for one does not diminish appreciation of the other. But if you had to choose? . . . Which one was better?

By any measure, this is a glut of gold. Imagine standing over a bunch of World Series Cups and trying to pick out a favorite. This stuff doesn't happen in Cleveland.

Boston baseball fans under the age of 100 have three championship choices: 1. The "Curse-bustin' " season of 2004; 2. The 2007 wire-to-wire championship that featured an underrated ALCS comeback from a 3-1 series deficit against Cleveland; 3. The Boston Strong/"Every little thing gonna be all right" Fenway festival that ended 18 days ago.

Poor 2007. Those guys might have been the most talented of this championship group and their comeback against the Tribe was truly spectacular, but on our medal platform of World Series winners, the '07 team goes home with the bronze. Have you heard a single person say, "Wow, this late-night, Shane Victorino/David Ortiz theatre was great, but I got a bigger kick out of beating the Rockies at Coors Field six years ago.''

Sorry. Hard as it is to believe, we have a baseball championship memory that has become rather ho-hum. And it is 2007.


Which brings us back to the real argument: Which was more special, 2004 or 2013?

Big Papi weighed in on the topic moments after his Ruthian MVP performance 2½ weeks ago. The only man who played for the Sox in 2004 and 2013, said, "I think this might be the most special out of all the World Series I have been part of, to be honest with you.''

Yikes. Heat of the moment, I figured. But just because it's most recent doesn't automatically make it better. No one could really take 2013 over 2004 . . . could they?

Then I heard veteran sportscaster Bob Lobel say the same thing on the radio. Lobel goes back to the late 1970s. He's the man who put Ted Williams, Bobby Orr, and Larry Bird on the same TV show. He's seen it all here in the Hub. And he said the 2013 World Series was the top baseball moment for him.

I called him to challenge the remark. How could anything top the biblical Red Sox victory of 2004? That's the one that ended 86 years of frustration. That's the one that spawned a major motion picture and more than a dozen books. Stephen King, Bill Simmons, dying in peace, and all that.

"I think '04 was a much more personal championship,'' said Lobel. "You had people visiting graves of loved ones who never saw them win. It was a one-on-one thing for a generation that had never seen this happen.


"This was different because of the Marathon bombing. This was more of a communal thing. It had a broader brush than '04. After what happened last year, none of us thought this was possible. I just think this had a bigger impact on a wider number of people.''

Not me. The 2004 playoffs were 1 in a million. The Sox trailed the Yankees three games to none, losing Game 3, 19-8, at Fenway. Then they came back. They remain the only team in big league history to win a series after trailing, 3-0. And they did it at the expense of the Yankees — the team that had won 26 World Series since the Sox' last title in 1918.

How could we have forgotten so soon? The 2004 Red Sox were Sports Illustrated's "Sportsmen of the Year,'' the first team to receive the mag's ultimate award. The '04 Boys had Schill's bloody sock and Kevin Millar talking about Jack Daniels and thousands of people lining the streets of Boston when the Sox came back from Logan in the early morning hours the day after the clincher in St. Louis. That was before the real parade.

"Everywhere we went, people were bowing,'' said manager Terry Francona.

It was the end of Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone and Pesky holding the ball. It changed everything about the way we think about the Red Sox. It was downright biblical.

In the days after the Sox won in 2004, the late, great historian David Halberstam asked, "Will success and winning spoil this unique sense of community and passion . . . "


We got our answer in 2013. The worst-to-first Red Sox brought back that unique sense of community and passion. They helped our city recover from the tragedy of the spring. And they allowed us to celebrate a championship in Fenway Park for the first time since 1918.

I can see why David Ortiz and some fans like this one the best.

Not me.

It'll always be 2004. That's the one that changed everything.

What about you?

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.